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Construction graduates in high demand

  • Construction Hero

With a rapidly growing population and ongoing infrastructure challenges, New Zealand is a building and construction graduate's dream. Wherever you’re based in New Zealand there are opportunities for those with the right skills, knowledge and attitude to make a difference.

In fact, construction is looking positive with the Labour-NZ First government. With one of the main policy areas around housing, the new coalition has indicated plans to establish the Affordable Housing Authority and begin the KiwiBuild programmes. This could bring forward thousands of new developments in the coming years, perfect for future building and construction graduates.

Working in the Construction Industry

The growth of employment opportunities in the construction industry is well illustrated in Seek's recent data. Comparing new job advertisements between August 2016 and August 2017, construction roles were found to have increased 38 per cent. This tells us one thing - employers are in need of skilled construction graduates.

The Seek insight is also backed by Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry data which suggests by 2019, one in five new jobs created will be in construction.

This demand is also reflected in how much you can expect to earn from a career in construction. Based on insight from PayScale, carpenters earn approximately NZ$24.52 an hour while builders earn approximately NZ$27.11.

Of course, as those in the building and construction industry gain more experience, there is significant room to climb the salary ladder. In fact, several builders and carpenters earn close to $40 an hour, well above the New Zealand minimum wage.

Studying Building and Carpentry

At Unitec, there are a range of building and construction programmes for students to choose from. These range from pre-trade programmes such as the Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (in Allied Trades or Carpentry), to programmes leading to registration such as New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry to programmes that offer career progression, skill and knowledge development such as the Level 7 Bachelor of Construction (in Construction Management, Property Development, or Construction Economics) and Graduate Diploma in Construction Project Management.

We understand that many students come to Unitec to either transition careers or move into the industry after finishing school. This means the entry level Building and Carpentry programmes - such as the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Allied Trades) - are perfect for developing an understanding of the basic principles and practices that can lead to employment. Also, consider the new government initiative ‘fees-free’, which will allow you to study for free for your first year, or for 120 credits (if studying part-time). If you are interested in fees-free study check out our fees-free reference page on our website for more information and guidance.

Studying the Bachelor of Construction

Unitec has recently made significant changes to the Bachelor of Construction to ensure it aligns with the skills that are required in the industry mentioned above. Today's graduates are expected to have a range of competencies around planning so there is now an emphasis on the application of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology, Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) processes and resource management. Due to this new approach we are now able to utilise Unitec’s Think.Do. learning approach – learning through thinking and doing.

According to Head of Building Construction and Services Daniel Fuemana, the Bachelor of Construction programme has practical experience at its core so students have the chance to test out their new skills in challenging environments. This includes work experience where students work on real-world projects with real clients.

Daniel states, "Students aren't confined to an office. They are encouraged to interact with various building teams on interesting and complex projects in the community," he explained. "At the end of the project, students can see the final work and be proud of their achievement."

The building and construction industry is always going to seek employees with a mix of skills, knowledge and experience. For us at Unitec, getting this balance is key and why our Think.Do approach is so successful.


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